[Taken 31 July 2005 | Miami River | Dayton, OH]
Despite the scorching heat (though it didn't feel that hot when we started out this morning) John and I decided to do part of the Greater Miami Bike Trail, which we haven't been on since last fall. We biked along the Miami River from the Wegerzyn Gardens down to the Deeds Carillon and back - about 12 miles roundtrip. (Which I found out when I mapquested it later... I really need an odometer for my bike.) The Dayton Celtic festival was also going on today on the riverfront in downtown Dayton (we found out about it when we biked by it) and we stopped there for ice cream when we were on our way back from the carillon to the park where we left the car. Mmm.. cold ice cream on a hot summer day...
[Taken 30 July 2005 | Lionfish | Newport Aquarium, Newport, KY]
Since T~ had told me that the Newport Aquarium was a pretty neat place, and since Sarah agreed with that assessment, John and I decided to check it out this morning.
While it wasn't the Boston Aquarium, it was still very cool. The shark tunnel was great, and John and I managed to hit it at feeding time, so we got to see the wet-suited divers get mobbed by colorful fish, rays, skates, and some small sharks in one of the tanks. Those guys have to have the best job in the whole place.
John used the little blue LED that I have on my keychain to tease the lantern and flashlight fish out of the corner of their tank in the "Bizarre and Beautiful" exhibit so that we could see them better.
The jellyfish gallery might have been my favorite... the tanks were surrounded by elaborate gilded picture frames. The way that the jellyfish were softly lit with colored lights emphasized the "living art" aspect of that gallery. Too bad that the lighting was too dim for photographs, even with the f-stop opened as wide as it would go and the ISO dialed all of the way up to 1600.
The lorikeet aviary, while it didn't really seem to fit in with the whole fish theme that you expect in an aquarium, was still really neat. SInce you could buy nectar to feed the birds, the aviary was simply packed with people holding out the little plastic cups while a flock of the brightly colored birds landed on outstretched hands and arms for a snack. Even though John and I hadn't bought any food for them, we didn't have any trouble enticing the little birds to sit on our hands so we could pet them. I have never seen birds in an aviary that were this tame... they might as well have been someone's pets.
I am glad that we got to the Aquarium when we did. When we went in this morning,
there were no lines for ticktes, but it was still pretty crowded inside. After
we got out, and were sittin gon the patio of the restaurant next door for
lunch, we could see that an impressive line had built up at the ticket windows.
I don't even want to think about how crowded it must have been inside.
[Taken 18 June 2005 | A Classic | Ann Arbor, MI]
A classic Ford, as seen on Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor.
This one's for you, Chuck!
About a week ago, on July 20, Chuck said some pretty neat stuff about me in his journal, so I figured that I ought to return the favor, as it were.
I could say that he is the most "grown up" and out of all of my friends from Ann Arbor, but that is too obvious. He has a PhD in robotics (which I think is just too cool) and is a VP at his company and has hobbies he enjoys and is good at and has a great wife (Hi Elaine!) and has a couple of kids who he dotes on and has a really nice house and has a lot of friends. He is the American Dream personified.
I could also say that he is a great juggler, and has a wonderful comedic style. He always makes me laugh. But again, that is too easy. Chuck makes everyone laugh... you should see some of the improv shows and workshops he puts on at Pennsic and elsewhere!
When I needed a nice suit for interviews and stuff after I graduated from SI, Chuck went shopping with me and helped me pick out clothes. He has excellent taste, and is more stylish then a straight man should be allowed to be. He encouraged me to try on stuff that I would not normally have even picked out, a lot of which actually looked really good on me. (To anyone who knows me well, this all was a major accomplishment, as I do not really like to shop.)
But what I think I like best about Chuck is the way that his house is always open to his friends. If there is a party, or even just an informal, spur-of-the-moment get-together, then odds are it is at Chuck's house. He is always up for a movie, or a game of Catan, or just for hanging out. And he always has cheese. Cheese and skittles.
When I think about how I miss Ann Arbor, it is not the place I miss so much as it is the people there. And Chuck is definitely one of the people that I miss.
[Taken 23 July 2005 | Hasta | Dayton, OH]
John and I recieved a most inscrutable item of mail today... it was sent
to our old apartment address, and it contained a completely blank card and
a teabag (or very small potpourri sachet) neatly tied up in a ribbon. Nothing
else. It is a very nice card... a watercolor of a dancing woman in a green
Anyway, neither John nor I can decipher the name in the return address (L, a, something, something, s maybe?), and, as I already said, the card inside is completely blank.
So, um... if you live in Pontiac, MI (and happen to read this site) and mailed John and I a card and a teabag... please email me!
Thank you, that is all.
[Taken November 2004 | Cathedral Entrance | Basel, Switzerland]
John held the first ever LAN party in our basement this weekend, for which event our friend Z~ braved the 4-hour drive down from Ann Arbor.
While I enjoy gaming every now and then, I am not the connoisseur that John is. I don't game often, and I prefer adventure-style games. Point-and-shoot games aren't really my style, and I am not very good at them. Granted, I could get better at them if I practiced, but since they aren't my style to begin with, I don't have a lot of incentive to do so. I lasted at the LAN party for about four hours before my interest waned and I decided that discretion was indeed the better part of valor and wandered off.
I threw my camera, a couple of lenses, a couple of books, a bottle of water, and some snacks into a backpack and took off on my bike for the Cox Arboretum. Between hanging out at the arboretum for most of the afternoon, and then hanging out on the porch at home most of the rest of the evening, I got caught up on most of my reading. The only exception being that I haven't started on the latest Harry Potter yet. I want to re-read some of the earlier ones first, to refresh my memory of the characters and events. No rush. It is not like there is any sort of prize for reading it as soon as possible.
[Taken 17 July 2005 | Strawflower | Dayton, OH]
Yet more with the macro lens. How can I resist it when there is such a great arboretum so close to the house, with so many great flowers and plants to render into abstract images?
Odds and ends...
- Today, for the second day in a row, I accidentally left my wallet at home when I came to work. Each time I was saved from having a coffee-less morning by the fact that I keep a small stash of spare change in a desk drawer. I better start remembering my wallet, because eventually the change jar will run dry.
- The deck! It is finally dry! Thank you weather gods, for holding back on the rain the last couple of days!
- John is coming home this afternoon after a week-long business trip, which means that I will no longer be able to get away with eating tater tots and carrot sticks for dinner because I have been too tired/lazy/busy to cook.
- Remember the baby bird that I had John help me put back in its nest a while ago? When we were moving in to the house my Mom pointed out a couple of adolescent mourning doves that were hanging around in the flowerbeds. This week I noticed a couple of youngish adult mourning doves who are hanging around the trees in the front yard, and swooping around the deck in the back yard. I like to think that one of them is that baby bird, all grown upů and I think that we should get a birdfeeder for the backyard.
- I am glad that today is Friday.
[Taken 17 July 2005 | Daylily | Dayton, OH]
This is one of the daylilies that are in the front flower beds. More specifically, this is some of the tiny grains of pollen on one of the petals of one of the daylilies in the front flower beds. I love my macro lens.
[Taken 1 July 2005 | Bullseye Glass | historic Philadelphia, PA]
When John and I took possession of our house back in May and went to wander around in all of its gloriously empty rooms, we found that the old owners had left some stuff behind, as former owners are occasionally wont to do. I mean, hey, why haul away stuff that is still technically "good" but which you don't personally want to deal with anymore when you can leave it behind for someone else to deal with? The items in question are a table that was in the spare upstairs room (That room used to have a mural of a blue dog on one wall before John and I painted over it. At the closing, the old owners inquired about our intentions regarding the dog. I don't recall my actual turn of phrase, but I think I kind of laughed and told them that they had better take a picture of the dog if they were that attached to it.) and a tray of silverware which was in one of the kitchen drawers. We naively assumed that since those items were left behind, that they were ours, and proceeded to start using them. The table became our laundry folding table, and the silverware became our daily silverware.
Well, not so fast. Because it turns out that the old owners want those items back. And this is now almost full two months since we took possession of the house. I would really like to know why they waited so long to inform us of this error on their part, and why they are doing it in what I consider to be a really passive-aggressive manner. (This is currently a gripe of mine.) Even if they lost the business card that I gave them, which contained all (and I mean all) of my contact information, then they should at least have written an old-fashioned letter explaining the situation, and I might feel inclined to be a little more charitable... it is not as if they don't know the address.
Also. It took you two full months to realize that you couldn't find your silverware? What, have you been eating with your fingers the whole time without noticing? I mean, come on guys... this is pretty lame.
[Taken 4 July 2005 | Fireworks | Centerville, OH]
We are moved, unpacked, set up, and settled in. For this, John and I both took all of last week off of work.
On Monday, July 11, the cable guy showed up to bestow upon us the warm, glowing, warming glow of high-speed internet and cable TV. On that same day my desktop computer decided to have some "issues" that took most of the week to fully resolve, and there is still a file recovery program running on my external HD. Eventually I will have all of my files back.
The biggest project of the week (besides the whole unpacking thing) was to re-seal the back deck. We did most of the deck with a sprayer on Monday afternoon. The plan was to let the stuff we sprayed dry for the requisite 24-48 hours mentioned on the can of sealant before we hit the railings with brushes. However. It started to rain that evening, and rained the rest of the week, and when it wasn't actively raining it was very humid and getting ready to rain. The break in the weather finally came Sunday (yesterday) when it was still very humid, but at least it was sunny, which allowed us to finally finish sealing the deck. The slightly scary part was that the previously done portion of the deck was not yet quite dry… my feet kept sticking to it while I was walking around painting the inside of the railings. While I rationally know that the deck will, eventually, dry completely and no longer be tacky, I still remain slightly worried that the rain and humidity have messed up the process somehow and it will be like this forever. (When I was in high school, I took an art course on oils, and in one of the first pieces I did I messed up the proportions of oil paint to linseed oil to drying agent, and the picture never fully dried. It got to the slightly sticky/tacky stage and stopped there. Eventually I had to just throw it out because a painting that never quite dried was kind of gross. I irrationally worry that something like this will happen to the deck… that it will never quite dry, and I will hate using it because I can't stand the way that my feet stick to it.)
Enough about the deck already.
John and I intended to do a lot of fun, outdoor type things during our moving vacation… bike rides, go to the amusement park to ride rollercoasters, stuff like that. Really, we (or rather, I) sort of overplanned the whole thing. All of which plans ended up being cancelled anyway due to the never ending rain. So we puttered around the house and I got a lot of reading and photo editing done. Actually it was kind of nice to just hang around doing not much of anything. Which John can take as some kind of vindication, since he is always telling me to "relax" and "take it easy", and reminding me that I don't have to plan out every minute or write out and complete endless to-do lists.
Movies we saw while on vacation:
Batman Begins (at the theater): Very good. Completely ignores the last four Batman movies (which all pretty much sucked other then the first one) and just starts the whole story over. This time it is a lot closer to the original "Dark Knight" storyline from the comics.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (in the theater): Excellent! Hysterically funny! Much closer to the Roald Dahl book then the Gene Wilder version. The effects and visuals of the inside of the factory were gorgeous. My favorite bit was the nut sorting room, because I like the fact that all of those squirrels were real squirrels that were trained to sit there and shell those nuts and drop them on the conveyer belt. No animatronics or computer generated effects at all. Pretty cool, that. Also, Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka was a lot creepier then I remembered him being in the book, but since it was Johnny Depp, what did I expect?
Cursed (rented): Decent werewolf flick. Not a good movie, not a bad movie, but an entertaining movie.
Collateral (rented): Good action/thriller. Tom Cruise makes a very good and pretty creepy hit man. Jamie Foxx also does a good job, though I thought his character was a little too whiney. And the plot seemed very contrived in spots. But, hey. An all-around enjoyable movie.
[Taken 30 June 2005 | Three examples of early 20th century architecture in Philadelphia | Philadelphia, PA]
Well, today is the big day. Actually, today is the first of several big days. My folks and John's folks are all descending on our new house this evening to begin a weekend-long orgy of moving the contents of the apartment (particularily the big, heavy stuff) to the house and getting to know each other at the same time. Talk about multi-tasking!
It will be nice to be finally, fully moved into the house. I am looking forward to this whole homeownership thing.
(Due to the move and being busy with all of that and things being generally unplugged and unconnected it may be a little while before the next edition. Be patient.)
[Taken 30 June 2005 | The old and the new | Philadelphia, PA]
I got a lot of photos at the Centerville fireworks show last night... about 280. Thank you, 1G flash card, without which this would not have been possible. I think that some of them are even pretty good, considering that I kind of aimed the camera (on tripod) at what seemed like the correct portion of sky, timed the shots as best as I could, and completely guessed on exposure times. However. I have not been able to start to process any of them yet. I have recently begun shooting in uncompressed RAW format rather then maximum-res JPG (which may be maximum-res, but all JPG images imvolve some amount of compression). And my version of Photoshop (7.0.1) does not have plugins available for converting RAW format to JPG. Photoshop CS has such plugins, but I do not (yet) have CS. Ha ha! In the meanwhile I downloaded a trial version of some conversion software, but I seem to have maxed out the trial allowance of conversions when I converted my Philadelphia shots from RAW to JPG. Curse you, limited functionality trialware!
In other news, today is John's birthday. (Happy birthday!) In honor of the occasion I took him out to dinner at Jay's Seafood in the Oregon district, and we are currently doing no work whatsoever to prepare for the move. But that is just for tonight. Tomorrow we will be back to being very busy.
[Taken 30 June 2005 | Flying high | Philadelphia, PA]
I like the 4th of July. I like fireworks. John and I went to the riverfest in downtown Dayton yesterday for the fireworks. The riverfest itself... eh, not that great. The fireworks portion of the evening... amazing. John and I watched it from one of the bridges over the river, leaning up against the railing and looking toward the launch site across the water. I think that we had the best seats in the house. I was going to bring my camera and tripod with me to try and get some shots, but at the last moment decided to just leave them in the car and watch. Considering how packed it was, I am glad that I left them behind. There was no place where I woul have been able to set up, and I would have just ended up lugging them around for nothing. There is another show tonight at the Cenetrville high school that we are planning on going to, and I will probably bring my camera along to this one.
[Taken 1 July 2005 | Philadelphia architecture | Philadelphia, PA ]
The trip went well. I generally like Philadelphia. Of all of the big cities in the US that I have been to, it is certainly one of my top five favorites.
<sarcasm> You can fly the friendly skys secure in the knowledge that the people at the security checkpoints in the airports are doing their job well. </sarcasm> Despite John making a point of reminding me to take my pocket knife out of my backpack while I was packing, guess what I waltzed through security with? If you guessed a pocket knife (a rather nice buck knife) then you win the prize. (prize TBD) On the way back I put the knife in my suitcase, which I checked. Yeah, I feel a lot better about having to take off my sandals to go through the metal detector now.
Oh, how to describe Philly?
Well, beyond the business purposes that brought us all there, it is always nice to spend time with other Elsevier employees who are not part of my group in Dayton. Getting a different perspective is important. Plus, most of them are just a lot of fun to hang out with. Tuesday evening we kicked off the trip with dinner at Morimoto. I am a big fan of Iron Chef, so I was really looking forward to eating a restaurant owned by one of the iron chefs. It did not disapoint at all... the food and the drink were amazing, and the decor was very sleek and modern... very chic.
Friday after work and before I met up with Josh, T~ and I went wandering around near Washington Square. The sky was getting dark, but we greatly underestimated how quickly it would start to storm. We heard a rumble of thunder, I suggested that it might be time to get back the the hotel, and a sudden strong wing flung dirt, dead leaves, and other debris in our faces. Then the rain came pouring down in a nearly solid wall. We were both soaked in minutes. We were fortunate to find a taxi before we both drowned. Heh. Philly can be interesting.
I also got to see Josh while I was there - we met up Friday night after the deluge, wandered down to South street, had dinner, and generally caught up a bit.